The days of a man's word being his bond have long past in America, and it both breaks my heart and infuriates me. Honoring a contract or a vow was always the glue that held us together as a nation. If we neglect to rapidly return to that glue, the pain has only just begun.
Experts are now telling us the answer to the current crisis is the write down of the principle of millions of mortgages and to offer lower interest rates for borrowers who never paid in the first place. Of course, the original answer was to get Americans to borrow more money and spend their way back to prosperity. The answer seems to change each day.
Frankly, I don't think the Ph.D.s on Capitol Hill have a clue what to do. To them, doing something, even if it is wrong, is better than doing nothing. I disagree.
If borrowers who made mortgage commitments to lenders discover their loans are larger than the values of their homes, they will now be rewarded for defaulting. The new government plan is an insane attempt to stop the bleeding. Many people view walking away from the loan and violating the commitment to repay as a real option.
Forget whether they can afford to make the payments. Under this new government bailout for bad behavior, banks are willing to write down principle and absorb a portion of the loss, along with the government, by using taxpayer dollars. When the market turns around, the homeowner, not the bank or taxpayer, will benefit from the increase in price.
In essence, "heads" the deadbeat homeowners win, and "tails" the taxpayers lose.
Obama administration officials say millions will just walk away from their commitment if their plan is not implemented. But why pay if the government or the bank will? Honoring the promise to pay is not even a consideration to this administration.
Has anyone pointed out the obvious? Taxpayers, 92 percent of whom are current on their mortgages and taxes, will ultimately be absorbing those losses with their future taxes. I guess many believe there is a free lunch given Obama's willingness to reward bad behavior.
Our current leadership is pursuing a strategy that encourages people to break their word, not honor their obligation to repay and lay the bill on fellow citizens. Breaking one's word is no big deal to Obama.
That is not a surprise to me given career politicians are very well versed in promising the moon and not delivering. They know all too well that not honoring your commitment carries little or no consequence in the "entitlement mentality" world in which we live.
The tendancy to break a promise, word or commitment is like a rapidly growing cancer that is eating away at our national fiber.
You don't like the value of your home? Hold your banker hostage, threaten to walk away and the government will immediately provide you with a bailout. You don't like the rate you agreed to pay? Break your word, stop paying and they will give you a new one. Then the bill will be sent to the 92 percent of Americans who do honor their word – people who believe not fulfilling a commitment is not an option.
Are you unhappy with the spouse with whom you made a commitment to spend your life? Just walk away. Ignore the impact on your spouse and the children who are innocent bystanders.
Do you think you pay too much in taxes? Just lie and cheat on your taxes like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. The worst you can expect is a slap on the wrist and maybe even a cabinet appointment.
If there is no consequence for bad behavior, then it will continue.
In 1989 we built a home that 18 months later was worth half. I was upside down, and it made me lose sleep. My wife and I didn't call the bank and tell them we wanted a lower interest rate or a reduction of the principle. We worked hard, made the payments and paid the taxes. Why? We signed a piece of paper that memorialized we would. End of issue.
If we hadn't been able to pay for it, guess what? We would have been forced to sell it, incur a loss and work for years paying it off. Not anymore. Not in Obama's America. You can just break your word, and the taxpayers will be forced to pay for it.
In 1977 I made a commitment to have and to hold, until death do us part, to my wife. There were tough times over those 32 years. However, each time we wanted to quit we reminded ourselves that we made a promise. It is a commitment, a covenant.
Each year we pay our taxes and all of our bills. We have and will continue to live within our means. Yet, if you listen to the "experts," we are idiots. We are getting the short end of the stick.
Well, I'm glad I honor my word, and it is time we hold people accountable to do the same. We live in a country that depends on contracts and commitments. If we no longer hold people to their word, we are headed down a steep, long slide that ends in a very ugly society. What confidence will anyone have in anything if honoring a contract is not admirable?
My late father was right when he told me, "Son, a contract is only as good as the man who signed it and how much of value that man places on his word."
Using my dad's formula, many Americans are not worth much. The actual number is around 6 to 8 million Americans currently not paying for what they bought. Six to 8 million people seem to find it perfectly acceptable to burden other Americans with their responsibilities? A man's value is far more than his balance sheet. Have we forgotten that?
What type of country have we become if 10 percent of our citizens refuse to honor their word? More importantly, what signal are we sending to our children? Will we not only burden them with trillions in future debt but also set the example that breaking your word is perfectly acceptable?
Our president, his wife and the attorney general believe America is a "mean" nation of "cowards" that is facing a "catastrophe" – a nation that requires the government to fix all the problems we face by imposing ridiculous quick fixes like bailouts and counterfeit stimulus legislation.
I see America much differently.
The America I see is, for the most part, 300 million decent, honest, hardworking folks who play by the rules and believe in fulfilling commitments. They make and expect the same from others. It is a nation of people who see brighter days once the clouds of this storm pass – people who believe government is the problem, not the answer.
Ronald Reagan believed in the people of America, not the government, as the solution. The sooner "We the People" start to address the problems, the sooner we will fix them. Most Americans believe in each other and the ideals of our nation. We can repair our country by electing the right people to represent us: Politicians who listen to the will of the people or lose their jobs. We must demand our leaders honor their promises or pay the price come Election Day.
It starts with all of us, not just the 92 percent of us honoring our word, fulfilling our promises and doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. And honoring your word is right!
Last Tuesday, after he signed the $787 billion stimulus bill, Obama stated, "This is the beginning of the end."
If we continue down this road, he is absolutely right. It won't be the end of the recession. It will be the end of America as we know it.
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